Time for baseball ‘diehards’ to prosper

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Baseball has kept many of us entertained over the summer, but for the majority of sports fans, baseball becomes back page news as preseason football takes over center stage.

The diehards will still follow it daily and keep up with all the division races going on, but it’s evident from just sports talk radio and newspapers from sports cities – without even a game being played – that football is king.

But we still have to give our national pastime a little credit for keeping our attention with many of us still on the edge of our seats waiting to see what will happen. The Yankees-Red Sox series was once again stellar as they traded first-place throughout each game, a series the Sox eventually took.

The Brewers have taken control of the once crowded NL Central by winning 11 of their last 12 games with only one game not being won by two runs – a streak the sports book can’t be too excited about.

The Cardinals sit three games back now as they’ve been trying to keep up. They welcome the Brew Crew for a three game set starting Tuesday. The battle should be intense as Milwaukee tries to prove it can win on the road. Only three of their victories during the streak came on the road and it was at “Triple-A” Houston.

We’ve got a nice battle in the AL West with Texas and Anaheim separated by only one game before their big series next week. The NL West also has an equally interesting battle as Arizona failed to take advantage of the Giants recent woes against Philadelphia.

As for the Phillies, wow! The best pitching in baseball now has a fierce lineup and is destroying every team in their path with Hunter Pence easily being the top free-agent pick-up of the trade season.

With all the great things going on, sometimes it’s the sad part of the game that also endears us to it such as the Pirates meltdown following the blown call at the plate in a late July loss in Atlanta. One thing doesn’t lead to the other happening, but they’ve gone on to lose 11 of 12 games since.

The surrender flag waved loud and clear to the NL Central when they lost seven games at home last week to two of the worst teams, Chicago and San Diego. However, I must say it was fun while it lasted.
Along the same lines of an instance indirectly leading to another, we have David Price who can’t seem to get a win for his team since giving up Derek Jeter’s 3,000th. Price then turned the dubious honor into a marketing ploy with autographed merchandise commemorating his feat. Since losing that day to the Yankees, the Rays are 1-4 behind their All-Star pitcher.

There probably isn’t a more ironic or symbolic taste of just how cruel and sweet the game of baseball is than the long season Braves second-baseman Dan Uggla has endured.

On July 4, Uggla was hitting only .178 and considered one of the free-agent busts of the season along with Adam Dunn. But the very next day Uggla starting what has become a 28-game hitting streak as this week’s games began.

Over that span, he’s hit 12 home runs and raised his average to .220 while becoming the Braves most consistent force keeping them in wild card position.

And finally, it is with great regret to report to all baseball bettors that the gravy train ride is finally over. We knew it couldn’t last too much longer, but Astros starter J.A. Happ (4-14) has been optioned to Triple-A. It was a dream season for run-line bettors as 15 of Houston’s 18 losses behind Happ were by two runs or more.

This is just a brief delay in the betting action because he’ll probably be back up in September. But that delay should prevent him from having a 20-loss season.

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